WHO Walks Back Claim Asymptomatic Transmission is Rare


A backpedaling WHO clarified its Monday statement that asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission appears to be rare, NPR's Goats and Soda reports.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for health emergencies, said yesterday that she was responding to a journalist's question and "wasn't stating a policy of WHO or anything like that."

What she meant, she said, is that she hasn't seen evidence of widespread transmission from asymptomatic individuals. The existing data is spotty because "so-called silent spreaders" are tough to pinpoint.

But some scientists fear lasting damage over the confusion.

"It’s a mess. I don’t know why they would say asymptomatic transmission is very rare when the truth is we simply don’t know how frequent it is," Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, told The Washington Post.

A new study of an outbreak aboard a naval ship found that 1 in 5 of the young crew members who tested positive for antibodies had no symptoms. The study also showed that those who wore face masks or took other preventive measures reduced their risk.